Renault feels too reliant on Hulkenberg

Renault feels too reliant on Hulkenberg
By AutoSport

16/06/2017 at 19:12

Renault Formula 1 boss Cyril Abiteboul says the team's reliance on Nico Hulkenberg is "almost unfair", and that Jolyon Palmer "has to deliver" by scoring points.

Palmer is yet to score in his second F1 season with Renault, while new team-mate Nico Hulkenberg has finished in the top 10 in four of the last five races.

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That has led to speculation about the Briton's drive beyond the end of the season, although Palmer finished 11th in Monaco and Montreal to relieve some of that pressure.

Asked if Palmer was safe from the threat of being replaced - and whether the team had an alternative who could do better - Abiteboul told Autosport: "No one is safe in F1.

"F1 is not an environment where anyone can say loudly, 'I'm safe.'

"To a certain degree there are two questions. There is Jo, and there is a second driver.

"Right now my focus is on Jo. Jo has to deliver.

"What would happen then, I don't want to elaborate on that, and even further, who would be stepping in, because that's absolutely not the point for today.

"The fact is that Jo has a car which is a points-scoring car, and he has to enter into the points. Full stop.

"Right now I feel that it's a bit almost unfair to Nico, who has to do a lot," he said. "The team is clearly very dependent on him.

"When Nico is out of the game, including for reasons beyond his control like [in Monaco] when he had his gearbox failure, we struggle to finish in the points, despite a number of cars that were also not finishing the race.

With Hulkenberg having scored all 18 of Renault's points so far, the team is in a tight midfield group also containing Toro Rosso on 29, Williams on 22 and Haas on 15.

Abiteboul says he wants Renault to start F1's summer break - after the Hungarian Grand Prix on July 30 - sixth in the constructors' championship rather than its current seventh.

"It's a challenge," he added. We see that there is a very substantial gap between Nico and Jo in qualifying, and in the race.

"We are discussing on a regular basis, obviously, with Jo to see how he can improve."

Abiteboul conceded Palmer had endured some bad luck in the early races, losing valuable track time in Renault's RS17.

"The first thing we had to do was deliver him a weekend that was a clean weekend, and we did that in Monaco," he said.

"It was the first time in a while that we'd done that, and for me that weekend was almost a restart for the season for the relationship between Jo and the team, that is finally providing him the right platform in order for him to improve his game, and hopefully eventually to deliver.

"That process has to lead to a position where Jo will also make a contribution to the championship."